Boxing Day Boxes

Boxing Day falls on the day after Christmas. A British holiday, it originated as a day the house servants had off from work and were given holiday boxes by their employers. We don’t celebrate the holiday here in the United States, but there are many parties this time of year and boxed wine is an efficient delivery system of booze into your guests’ mouths without having to continually pop corks. And if like me, you embrace any celebration and wordplay, a Boxing Day Box Wine Party could be just the thing. You have the technology. The first wine I ever drank, and I use the term “wine” loosely, was box wine. Pink Franzia. So hid my face and purchased a box to see how it held up. Truth? If I was 15 again, goth as can be (I’m goth lite now), chilling in a gigantic coffin shaped couch with the elder goths who had adopted me , drinking pink because irony, THEN I might drink it again. That’s a lot of ifs. Truth told I found it a reasonable…juice product? It’s just not really wine. But like I said, if you are young, goth and hanging out in coffins, have at it. There are benefits of boxes. Firstly and foremost, they contain a sh*t-ton of wine. And said vino will last for some time after opening because the bag collapses around the wine as wine is drawn out, limiting oxygen contact. That being said those bags are not as airtight as glass so the wines tend to require a little more sulfur to counteract any oxidation, and wine in a bag will not age for that long. So open your box soon and drink within a few weeks. Now for some hardcore honesty. I did not like many things I tried. I wasted way too much time dumping wine-flavored chemicals down the sink in the name of journalism but then so do skincare bloggers. You’ll also notice there are no bubblies. Sadly (from what I hear) the plastic of the bag-in-box cannot stand up to that much atmospheric pressure reliably. I did, however discover solid box brands with some standouts! BEST IN SHOW La Vielle Ferme Rosé: I have found this rosé to be perfectly quaffable out of the bottle, and the boxed version tastes…the same. The Perrin family are the folks behind the famous Chateau Beaucastel and their entry level Rhone valley rosé is mineral salts, raspberries and dried flowers all stirred and steeped and glowed up to fill your glass. And fill it again. It’s a box so it’ll go on. BEST ALL-AROUND BRAND Bota Box: It was a dependable winner. In terms of tasting like the grape. The cab was cabby, the Chardonnay tasted like Chardonnay, and so on right down the line. Not only did they all taste like the variety listed on the label, but they were tasty. I felt bad discarding with leftovers in those boxes but I only have one liver and so much kitchen space. You’ll find individual reviews below. BEST CABERNET SAUVIGNON Bota Box: Their basic cab is refreshing. And complex! Beyond dark berries I taste white pepper and violets. It’s fun. If blinded on it I would not have guessed it to be from a box. CAB RUNNER UP Black Box Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon: Tis’ heady and almost chocolate and coconut. Very yum. Very lush. A bit riper than Bota so if that is your jam you might actually prefer it to the Bota. Very do-able. BEST ROSÉ See Best in Show ROSÉ RUNNER UPS Pink Franzia: As I said, you get a pass to drink Franzia if you are goth and in a coffin-shaped couch. And if you are let us trade notes. We probably have friends in common. Not that many people have mortuary-themed decor. Provisions Rosé: Look. I don’t know that I loved it. Chill it. Chill it hard. It kind of reminds me of Lillet Rosé which is to say I want to drink it very cold with a squeeze of lime and maybe a dash of club soda or ginger ale. Bota Box Rosé: So bright n’ light if I drank it without seeing it I’d assume it was some sort of light white wine without anything to offend you. Fruity, it is acidic though and very friendly. It has whiffs of red berries of many sorts (cranberry, strawberry, raspberry). It is not sweet, but ripe underneath all the acid and has this taste of dry pound cake which endears it to me. BEST PINOT GRIGIO Black Box: It has a pleasant body to it and it…tastes like basic Pinot Grigio. A little citrus, a tiny bit yeasty and overall just pleasant and basic. And sometimes basic is fine. I recommend for an office party. WORST PINOT GRIGIO Vin Vault: Actually maybe it is just me. Brew lovers may be into it as it reminded me of beer. It’s the Bud Light of wines. BEST OUTSIDE THE USUAL BOXED WINE VARIETIES BOX Bota Box Old-Vine Zinfandel: It is zesty (like citrus zest to my taste buds?) and I believe there is enough residual sugar than non-wine-snobs like me might declare it to be sweet. I would say it is black and blue and red berries of every sort in fresh and Kool-Aid form, spliced with mulling spices and a spritz of lemon. So it is not dessert but…it is not not dessert. I’d also be into mixing ANY boxed red with cola for a Kalimoxto cocktail. BEST SWEET PICK DON’T FIGHT ME Barefoot’s Moscato: Look. I see you haters hating and that’s fine. Because, much as I am known to bring obnoxious wine to parties where I am sure there isn’t going to be anything I like, I have a friend who brought her own damn Moscato to MY party because she likes a sweet treat. I now intend to always have something sweet on hand for her and you know what? This Moscato tastes exactly as it should. Rallying the sweet without being trollingly saccharine, and not too viscous with a surprising hit of fresh pineapple and guava. I’d give it to my friends on (brace yourself)…ice. And yikes, with that note I hear the wine snob mob coming for me so I shall box myself up and get shipped to England’s Camel Valley where I hope a winemaker will accept me as his Boxing Day gift and ply me with a tasty glass of chilled Bacchus. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: Live, Raw and Real Old World vs. New World Round Two: Grenache Noir! Old World vs. New World Round One: Cabernet! You can also listen to Ellen's podcast with Shaughn Buchholz, The Wine Situation here .

La Vieille Ferme (Perrin & Fils)

La Vieille Ferme Rosé Blend

Yah know, the box tastes like the bottle and the bottle ain’t bad. Well done Vielle Ferme! Further: good acid, minerals, raspberries and dried roses. Get a glow. — 6 years ago

Severn, Jason and 7 others liked this

Bota Box Vineyards

Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Oh hey it tastes like cab so that’s fun. It feels like something lighter like the tannins aren’t where I’d think a cab might be but in the case of the boxed stuff I’ve been trying I rate that as a plus. I’d drink it and believe it came from a bottle — 6 years ago

Trixie, Brendan and 4 others liked this

Black Box Wines

California Pinot Grigio 2017

Of all the boxed Pinot Grigios I’ve tried (sentence I never thought I’d use yet here we are) this one gets top marks for good texture, and not trying to be anything besides its friendly easy going self. — 6 years ago

Mark, Trixie and 4 others liked this

Bota Box Vineyards

California Old Vine Zinfandel

Also tastes like, oh hey it’s an inexpensive but drinkable cali zin. Cali zin not some sorta sin. It’s okay. Look I feel weird about the whole boxed wine genre so I want to report the ones you can go to if going box. So far if going box Bota is doing the best job of producing things that taste like wine. Except one other thing but stay tuned... — 6 years ago

Trixie, David and 4 others liked this